OC Restaurant Week

One of the greatest things about living in Orange County is the ridiculous amount of good food that’s within driving distance.

Once you’re sick of eating at the Mesa, Brandywine or Pippin commons, you’re only a hop, skip and drive away from some of the best dining in the state.

Unfortunately, a lot of the best restaurants in the area are also priced outside the budget of most college students, which makes Orange County Restaurant Week even more exciting.

OC Restaurant Week is a biannual dining event that takes place throughout the county. This season, it runs from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, and won’t happen again until spring.

The idea of restaurant week is pretty simple: in order to get people out of their houses and into the restaurants, local eateries release special menus with fixed prices for a week.

However, these “prix-fixe” menus only allow you to choose from two or three dishes per course, and there are normally no substitutions.

While this may sound unappealing to some people, it’s good for the chefs preparing the food. They know what’s going to be ordered so food comes out faster, fresher ingredients can be used and flavor profiles can be better matched.

Because the amount of variety is limited, kitchens can also order ingredients in bulk and cut costs, leading to cheaper prices for customers.

Some restaurants even use their restaurant-week menus for creative purposes, testing out experimental dishes. This makes Restaurant Week a perfect time to try out new restaurants. You’ll be able to gauge the creativity and taste of the kitchen, and decide whether or not you want to become a regular.

Even if you decide the restaurant is not for you, you’re more or less guaranteed a memorable meal as the menu planners always pull out their best dishes for this time of year.

The restaurant week menus range from ten-dollar lunches to forty-dollar dinners so you’ll be able to find a place to eat whether you’re looking for a quick bite during lunch or a complex four-course dinner.

There are a few notable local restaurants participating this year. Among them are some of the best places near campus to take a date.

The Melting Pot, a very intimate fondue restaurant just five minutes from campus off of Jamboree, is offering a thirty-dollar per person three-course dinner, complete with cheese fondue to start, followed by filet mignon, shrimp and strip steak for the main course.

For the cherry on top, you get a choice of one of their three ridiculously decadent chocolate fondues for desert. The environment created by the dim lightning, private seating and the allure of interactive food is a perfect way to get to know someone much better.

If you’re not yet interested in reaching the next level of familiarity but still want to impress, the Rusty Pelican in Newport Beach is also offering a thirty-dollar per person menu. Make sure to get seated on their patio facing the Newport Back Bay and you’ll have the perfect setting to accompany your very creative three-course seafood dinner.

If you’re not interested in taking out a date, there are also a few places where you can meet your friends to start an exciting night. RA Sushi at The District on Jamboree is offering a twenty-dollar dinner consisting of a salad, an appetizer, a sushi roll and a desert. Get your favorite people together and the good food and loud music will do the rest, giving you an enjoyable night out at a reasonable price.

Whether you’re a dorm couple celebrating your five-day anniversary, looking to go out with your friends or just finding a new restaurant to call your favorite, Orange County Restaurant Week has something to offer everyone.

The variety in the restaurants is amazing. There are vegetarian places and steak houses, as well as both cheap and expensive menus.

Whatever you love to eat, there will be something on their website that caters to you. So, readers, do yourself a favor: skip ordering that pizza or going to Pippin for a night and, instead, try something new. You’re bound to have a good time.